Schenectady County

Neighbors: Alco site construction noisy at times

Construction on the old Alco site off Erie Boulevard is disturbing some people’s beauty sleep in the
Work continues on the Mohawk Harbor site along Erie Boulevard in Schenectady Thursday, Octber 8, 2015.
Work continues on the Mohawk Harbor site along Erie Boulevard in Schenectady Thursday, Octber 8, 2015.

Construction on the old Alco site off Erie Boulevard is disturbing some people’s beauty sleep in the city of Schenectady and the town of Glenville.

Several people who live near the site on either side of the Mohawk River have complained of loud noise and their houses shaking early in the morning from construction work on the 60-acre brownfield.

“I hope it hasn’t done any damage to my foundation,” said Elizabeth Volpicelli, who lives on Monroe Street off of Front Street. “I was losing my mind. It started at around 8 a.m. and then some mornings even earlier. One Saturday I even heard them, and I thought that was too much.”

Volpicelli said the noise is not as prevalent as it was several weeks ago. She said the contractor, Rifenburg Construction, also hasn’t compacted dirt on the site recently, so the ground has stopped shaking.

Rifenburg is under contract by the developer, the Rotterdam-based Galesi Group, to raise the property 2 to 4 feet above the 100-year flood plain before building housing, hotels, office and retail space, and a casino.

The contractor is increasing the density of the soil on site using a technique called dynamic compaction, which calls for a large steel tamper suspended from a crane to be dropped onto the soil.

“They only did it a little while and then would stop because they knew it was causing a problem,” said Carmella Ruscitto, president of the East Front Street Neighborhood Association. “Before, about two months ago, I even felt it here. According to a couple of people, it did bother them.”

David Buicko, COO of Galesi, said Rifenburg is finished with dynamic compaction on the site and that it won’t affect anyone’s foundations.

“We never got any complaints,” he said. “We don’t anticipate anything different other than regular construction noise. We’re happy to communicate with neighbors if they have a problem.”

Ruscitto, who lives on Front Street, said she inquired about the noise around two months ago but added that she hasn’t received any complaints from nearby residents lately.

Rifenburg is also carving a 50-boat-slip harbor at the northern end of the site and driving sheet piles into the ground.

Paul Hunt, who lives on Tryon Avenue in Glenville, said the noise on the site woke him up before 7 a.m. and that several of his neighbors also voiced concerns.

“We understand they are building this thing and unfortunately they don’t care about the people in Glenville,” he said. “It used to be they would start at 6:30 a.m., now it is closer to 7 a.m. Most of us are senior citizens and need our beauty sleep.”

Under city code, Rifenburg can work on the site from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to the city’s engineering department.

“Typically we only allow work at night if it is for traffic reasons,” said City Engineer Chris Wallin. “I haven’t heard many complaints. One property owner expressed concerns of vibrations. The site is monitored and the vibrations are minimal.”

Buildings are expected to start going up on the site later this month, including a 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel and 191-unit apartment building.

A sign could be seen on Erie Boulevard at the edge of the property advertising the hotel that reads, “opening soon.”

“I think people will have more concerns as buildings are constructed,” Wallin said.

Galesi is partnering with Rush Street Gaming of Chicago to open one of the state’s first commercial non-Indian casinos. Rush Street is waiting for a casino license from the state Gaming Commission before starting construction.

The casino license is expected to be awarded by the end of the year. The Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor is projected to take between 16 and 18 months to build.

“It’s not going to get any better, because once the casino gets put in it will also be noisy,” Hunt said. “I know what casinos are like and they’re talking about also putting the stupid 80-foot sign. There’s nothing anyone could do about it because we live across the river.”

Volpicelli said it would be nice if the contractor or developer kept nearby residents updated with ongoing construction and alerted them to possible disturbances.

“They should have written letters to us or come to one of our meetings and said this would take place,” she said. “They did not. That annoyed me because it seems like they don’t care. Down here we’re not regarded in the same way as the Stockade.”

Wallin said the city notifies residents of nearby construction but that the Alco site is a private development and a separate parcel. He said a website might be set up in the future to provide information and updates on the project.

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